After pirate Henry Morgan (of Captain Morgan Rum fame!) sacked Panama in 1671, the Spanish moved the 1519 city 8km to its present position because it was more easily defended, and the old city fell into ruin and disrepair. Visible from the airport causeway in Panama City, it is a pretty spectacular location with marshes and sandbars stretching far out into the Pacific at low tide. The high-rises of the modern city are visible in the distance, with the 'new' old city (Casco Viejo) hidden behind. Much of the old city has been buried since 1950 (despite protection from the government since 1976) due to rapid expansion and poor residential settlements. Little remains of the magnificent most-important city of Spanish central America, but its peaceful tranquility is equally romantic.
The ruins are loosely fenced in and cover a large area. The cathedral's stone tower (offering magnificent views) remains standing overlooking the plaza (photo at right). The convent of Santo Domingo, the Iglesia de San Jose, the hospital of San Juan de Dios, and the city hall are all within walking distance, but only the larger walls remain.
Source: Lonely Planet Central America, 7th Edition 2010